Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is cute but diverts attention from its social allegory.

Ain’t that the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? I want this little guy so bad!

JK.Rowling’s magical world of Harry Potter has always been such a treat. I absolutely loved the HP series. I grew up with it, treasured it and…uh lived through it. Well not really but we Potter fans like to think that we do somehow 😉 I haven’t read Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. After taking a sort of hiatus with the potter world, it was a nice surprise to see Rowling’s book come to the big screen. It’s definitely an entirely different experience not knowing what the story is all about.

Rowling’s world is phenomenally creative. It still captures the wonder of my childhood. And it makes me once again excited,even invigorated,for the many more magical narratives that she has in store for us. Taking a different path, Fantastic Beasts is not the grand affair that Harry Potter was. It’s protagonist doesn’t bear the same burden of destiny and things are definitely more allegorical of society over here. If Harry Potter was about reimagining how exciting school could be, Fantastic Beasts tries to be a reflection of social change and order. And although I love the film’s characters including all the weird,cool and cute beasts, the social narrative is a rather gloomy portrayal of intolerance.

But first let’s talk about the aspects of the film which landed really well. Newt Scamander(Eddie Redmayne) is awfully awkward and charming in his own way. And so is the supporting cast of creature conservation crusaders. You have the shell-shocked blur-head Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), the ever coquettish Queenie (Fine Frenzy) and the stick-by-the-book ex-auror Popertina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston). It’s wacky, hilarious and loads of fun watching their relationships develop and the many instances where they get into sticky situations. The jaunty tone of the franchise’s past is well preserved here by David Yates. The man’s still got it. But let’s be honest, who else would we rather have than David Yates? Eddie Redmayne is very awesome in his role by the way and I couldn’t have thought of anyone better to play Newt.

Some spoilers at the end of this paragraph, where I talk about how the film diverts attention from its allegory and becomes quite troubling.

Erumpent.Bowtruckle.Graphorn.And the aptly named Swooping Evil. My favourite? The cute little critter in the gif above, the ape-like Demiguise. Newt’s world of magical creatures and his admirable cause of conserving them takes him to the US where neither his creatures nor he is really welcome. While Newt and his friends are on the hunt which is highly entertaining and light-hearted, the politics on the other side is darker and, worse still, quite troubling. MACUSA, the American Ministry Of Magic is seen throughout the film to be highly enclosed in its beliefs. This continues even till the end. Where it is obvious that repressed individuals who interact with the non-magical world and repression of magical identity in general is bad, MACUSA still fails to recognize the problems of its own system. Instead of helping its own victimized wizards/witches, it destroys them for fear of dealing with the root problems. In the last few scenes, MACUSA’s acts are re-enforcing the social divide and charging the victim instead of mending the broken. They choose to accept to live under a constant state of suppression than forge steps ahead to validate their identity,freedoms and rights. The ‘villain’ actually makes a good point in the end, but the film decided to do a cop out and diverted underlying social concerns with plot tricks. I’m not a big fan of that to be honest. I was left a little confused.

If intolerance was a feature the film wanted to highlight, then I’m not too pleased that the film constantly tried to diffuse the tough questions it proposed. The movie is essentially two tracks. I’m big on the entertaining chases and quests to find the many magical beasts in the film-The animation is an absolute stunner. It’s so cute that I’d wish I had one of those creatures as a life-long companion. That’s the magic of the HP mythology. The social allegory,which is more complex than in the original HP series is, as of now, still unresolved. This first Fantastic Beasts movie doesn’t even attempt to address the issues plaguing tensions between the non-magical and the magical world. It’s more hard-up on catching Newt who is a good guy-It’s more entertaining but it leaves many things unanswered.

Rating: 6/10 What are your thoughts?

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. smilingldsgirl says:

    I was disappointed by it. Jacob and Queenie were fun and the beasts but I didnt think the story gelled well tonally. I also didnt think Newt worked as the protagonist and thought Tina was a flat character

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Yeah Tina was pretty bland, I guess her role was simply to be an ‘opposite’ to Newt and to some extent, Jacob and Queenie as well. I love the beasts though, too adorable!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. katelon says:

    I’ve never read the Potter books but have seen the movies. J K Rowling does put forth the state of our world as none of us is particularly free, except those who are ruling, and the truth of us, our power, our magic, our divinity is suppressed at every turn.

    The US has gone in a particularly dark direction with the newly elected president. I’m still hoping that somehow, via the recount, electoral college or something, that he doesn’t get inaugurated but in truth, it is the whole system that needs to change all over the world. Change to one that truly supports humanity, the planet, freedom, inclusiveness, peace, magic, etc.

    I understand your point though that if the point of this book and movie really was to point out this repressive government than perhaps it needed to focus on that more.

    I will check out this movie. Thanks for the review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Thanks for reading! Yeah definitely. In this political climate, films that handle such themes are really important. The idea behind the segragation between non-magic and magic communities was an important theme which the film talked about,but didn’t really have much to offer for solutions.
      You should really read her books! Always better than the movies :))

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This wasn’t a movie that I really wanted to see (my boyfriend persuaded me), but I actually enjoyed it. Mind you, I had zero expectations. I get your dissatisfaction though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      I still can’t get over how cute the beasts are! I’m just abit miffed with how it ended 😛

      Like

  4. Ben says:

    I loved this film. The design of the creatures and the world created were great. I understand what you mean about hinting at a social issue rather than addressing it but I suppose it makes you ask yourself what you want from this series? Would that kind of commentary really translate? Could it be hinted now and explored in a later movie?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Me too, but the end felt like it just glossed over the issues. I’m a huge fan of the Rowling’s magical world, and it was actually pretty smart trying to include some social commentary into this film. But it felt like nothing progressed and Credence’s death was quite unjustified. I’m hoping they really address these issues in the sequal 🙂

      Like

  5. Raney Simmon says:

    I understand where your coming from. While I really enjoyed seeing the film, I agree that the social allegories in the movie were really glossed over and the American Ministry of Magic didn’t really help further diminish the problems between non-magic folk and magic folk.

    I haven’t read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them either yet. I plan on it though as soon as I can. Hopefully it’ll provide the answers the movie left out.

    Liked by 1 person

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